Entrepreneurs

‘Baby Shark’ Producer’s Uncle Sees Fortune Triple After Spin-Off To Focus On Startups

Less than a year after debuting on Forbes’ Korea Rich List, apparel entrepreneur Kim Chang-soo’s net worth has tripled to $2.1 billion, catapulting him to the ranks of the country’s 20 wealthiest individuals, thanks to a spin-off to focus on investing in startups.

Kim’s Korea-listed company, F&F, last month spun off its core clothing business, which includes the brands MLB and Discovery Expedition. The spin-off company, called F&F Co. Ltd., listed on the Korea Exchange on May 21. Its shares are up about 15% since then as investors optimistic about its apparel brands followed the spin-off.

The remaining company was renamed to F&F Holdings and will now focus on investing in other companies. Its shares, which were suspended on April 28, fell roughly 50% since it resumed trading after the listing of its spin-off company. F&F Holdings’ shares have stabilized last week and are still up 90% since 2019.

Kim, 60, is the largest shareholder of both F&F Co. Ltd. and F&F Holdings, with a 45% stake in each company. With a net worth of $2.1 billion, he ranks No. 18 among billionaires in Korea on the Real-Time Billionaires List, just behind LG Chairman Koo Kwang-mo and Naver cofounder Lee Hae-jin.

More on Forbes: Korea’s 50 Richest 2021: A Record 46 Billionaires Make The List

While investors are more optimistic on F&F Co. Ltd.’s clothing business, F&F Holdings appears to be serious about investing in startups. A month after F&F Holdings decided to spin off its clothing business, it launched an investment subsidiary in December called F&F Partners. According to Korean startup-funding site The VC, F&F Partners has invested a total of more than 3.9 billion won (about $3.5 million) so far in three content-production startups: BambooNetwork, Channel OCT and WhyNot Media.

F&F Holdings also appointed Park Eui-heon, the former CEO of Korean financial powerhouse Meritz Financial Group, as its new CEO on March 26, taking over from Kim.

Kim’s nephew, Min-seok, is also a successful entrepreneur. Min-seok is the producer of the viral “Baby Shark Dance” video, which has 8.7 billion views, making it the most-viewed video on YouTube. The two-minute earworm about a family of sharks, released in 2016, went viral in 2018 and surpassed Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito’’ in November last year as the most-viewed YouTube video. In 2010, Min-seok, along with two former colleagues from Korean gaming firms Nexon and NHN, cofounded online education provider SmartStudy, which released “Baby Shark Dance.”

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